Thursday, December 22, 2011

More Gathered Gems

Recently I was able to finish reading the book Kept for the Master's Use, and what a book! I found it to be so encouraging, convicting and uplifting. A book that I will definitely be recommending to others and one that I will be reading again and again. 

(And just as a little disclaimer . . . while there were a few things in it that I did not agree with [which seems to be pretty typical with most books other than the Bible :)] overall, it is an excellent book.)

When the last page of the last chapter was finished, I went back and read through all of the quotes that I had written down (and the large sections that I had written down page numbers for) . . . so many gems of wisdom that yet again, spoke to my heart. It is interesting to look back and see which chapters I gleaned the most from, and I wasn't surprised that "My Lips Kept for Him" was one of those!

Reading this chapter really spoke to my heart as being a person who is more of a 'talker' and who loves to visit with others, to have deep, thought provoking discussions, and more, and yet also one who has weaknesses in this area such as sometimes not thinking before I speak and times of being too passionate and/or not having my words be with grace, there was just so much encouragement and wisdom for me in these pages! Another aspect of it that was so applicable is with having a heart for evangelism and a desire to share about the Lord with others, there was much in this chapter that encouraged that.

Anyway, I hope that these selected portions from several of the chapters will be a blessing to you as they have been to me . . . .


"'How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!' [Romans 10:15]. . . if we want to have these beautiful feet, we must have the tidings ready which they are to bear. Let us ask Him to keep our hearts so freshly full of His good news of salvation, that our mouths may speak out of their abundance." (pg. 63)


"And this is the way the Master keeps the lips of His servants, by so filling their hearts with His love that the outflow cannot be unloving, by so filling their thoughts that the utterance can not be un-Christlike. There must be filling before there can be pouring out; and if there is filling, there must be pouring out, for He hath said, 'Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.' (pg. 91-92; emphasis in the original)


"Not one sentence that passes these lips of ours but must be an invisibly prolonged influence, not dying away into silence, but living away into the words and deeds of others." (pg. 95)


"Literally, a consecrated life is and must be a life of denial of self. But all the effort and pain of it is changed into very delight. We love our Master; we know, surely and absolutely, that He is listening and watching our every word and way, and that He has called us to the privilege of walking 'worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.' And in so far as this is a reality to us, the identical things which are still self-denial in one sense, become actual self-delight in another." (pg. 115-116; emphasis in the original)


"The love of Christ is not an absorbing, but a radiating, love. The more we love Him, the more we shall certainly love others." (pg. 154-155)


"'For Thee!' That is the beginning and the end of the whole matter of consecration." (pg. 159)


"For the Lord is our Keeper, and He is the Almighty and the Everlasting God, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. He will never change His mind about keeping us, and no man is able to pluck us out of His hand. Neither will Christ let us pluck us out of His hand . . . He that keepeth us will not slumber. Once having undertaken His vineyard, He will keep it night and day, till all the days and nights are over, and we know the full meaning of the salvation ready to be revealed in  the last time, unto which we are kept by His power.

And then, forever for Him! passing from the gracious keeping by faith for this little while to the glorious keeping in His presence for all eternity! . . . we showing forth His praise, and He showing the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in the ages to come! He for us, and we for Him forever!"

(pg. 168-169; emphasis in the original)


" . . . . henceforth it must be, shall be, and by His grace will be our true-hearted, whole-hearted cry -

Take myself, and I will be
Ever, ONLY, ALL for Thee!"

(pg. 185; emphasis in the original.)

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Do We Know the Bible is the Inspired Word of God?

Awhile back on a forum for homeschool graduates that I am a part of, there was a discussion about the inspiration of the Bible. It was a little surprising how many did not believe that the Bible was, in its entirety, the inspired, infallible word of God, believing instead that none of it was true, or, that only parts of it were true and others weren’t. There ended up being quite a discussion about it (of which I was a part), and my last post in the thread I thought I would share here as well in the hopes that it may be an encouragement/help to someone . . .

This thread has been a little disheartening to read through and see the various responses that have been given. Much evidence has been shared by others showing the support for the inerrancy of Scripture, yet the evidences given have for the most part, not been examined, but have instead, been overlooked and/or ignored.

If the serious, unbiased seeker of the Lord and of truth would examine the evidences and would truly examine the Bible without presuppositions, they would find that it IS in its entirety, God’s infallible Word.

The Bible itself claims to be the Word of God, but that in and of itself does not prove that it is (as many of you have pointed out.) The Koran and other religious works also make similar claims, and logically, all of these cannot be true.

How, then, is the Bible different from other religions’ books? Simply put, the Bible, and the historical, logical, and archaeological evidences, show clearly that the 66 books of the Bible are the inspired word of God (and what is shared below is just a tiny glimpse into these evidences, and is also not an examination of the canonization of Scripture, though that makes a very fascinating study as well) . . . .

To make a bit of a starting point, try finding ten people in your own town with similar backgrounds and walks of life and ask them to, without talking to one another, write a short paper on a controversial topic, such as: what is man’s purpose in life, and then see if they agree in perfect harmony. I would venture to guess that they would not. :) Consider that, then, in light of this . . .

--The Bible, even with its great length (1196 pages in my Bible), has perfect unity. It was written down by men (as in, the hand of God did not pen it like He did the ten commandments) over a period of 1,500 years by more than 40 different authors with very different education levels, backgrounds, cultures, ages, and more. They wrote in different places – city, wilderness, prison, island. The writings composing the Bible were written on three different continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and in three different languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.)

--The Bible is composed of 66 books that deal with a wide variety of topics, many that are controversial, but the central theme that can be found throughout the entire Bible is God’s marvelous plan of salvation for mankind through Jesus Christ. And when considering the above points, that in and of itself is amazing.

--The Bible (and historical evidence) shows the perfect fulfillment of so many of the prophecies given in the Old Testament (Lamentations 2:17. And the prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled are still awaiting their fulfillment.)

--The Bible has no contradictions (and the supposed ‘contradictions’ that have been shared in this thread are not truly contradictions – a thorough examination of these ‘contradictions’ will bring that to light.) To clarify this just a bit, one of the foundational laws of logic is ‘non-contradiction’ - a thing cannot be both ‘a’ and ‘not-a’ at the same time. For example, if the Scriptures said that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and then in another place said that He was born in Jerusalem, we have a contradiction and this would be a provable error.

This is where discernment and an unbiased examination of the evidence must come into play, however. Just because two statements may differ, it does not mean that they contradict one another. For example (and a rather simple one), I could say that “I went to the store today.” By that statement, someone might infer that I only went to the store today. Whereas I simply did not give the full information by my statement. A later statement (or statements) could give more information without contradicting the first statement. “I went to the park today” or “I went to the store today and yesterday” or “I didn’t go to the store this morning.” These do not contradict the first statement, but they do give a fuller and more complete understanding to what actually took place.

One additional point I would like to make to this is that our translations are not perfectly exact to the original texts (as in, an exact word for word translation – this is understood through even the translation today of one language to another, say, French to Spanish.) This is where it is helpful to have things such as interlinear Bibles, a concordance, lexicons, etc. that help us to understand the original Greek and Hebrew words that were used. Even with this, though, again, the Bible has no contradictions in it.

It basically comes down to the fact that there is irrefutable evidence that the Bible is true (and there is SO much more than the tiny little bit that was shared in this post that is evidence that the Bible is true . . . including in areas that were not even touched on here such as the archaeological, historical, and scientific evidences. There have been whole books written on these evidences, and I’d rather not write another one in this thread :) so this is but a brief glimpse into a part of it.) It is up to each one of us, then, to believe the evidences given, or to disregard them and continue believing that the Bible is false (or that parts of the Bible are false.) Each man has this choice to make . . . and the choice we make will have eternal consequences.

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book . . . if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19

For myself, I choose to believe and trust the indisputable historical, logical, scientific, and archeological evidences that abound and to take God at His word. Trusting that what He promised and what He has said is true . . . .

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8

"So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but by men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:19-21

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Devoted to Prayer

Awhile back, I had shared a post on my As Lilies blog about my Bible memory verse boxes and getting back into trying to memorize a verse a day (except for weekends which were for review – and I do miss days periodically as well). With doing this, I have found in my own heart and life, many blessings being reaped.

So often, the verse (or verses) that I would be working on memorizing, or ones that were memorized earlier, would come to mind throughout the day and I would have the opportunity to meditate on them and look for ways to apply them to my life.

Recently, one particular verse struck a chord in my heart as it is an area I had been convicted to grow in and was also seeing the absolute necessity for it in order to have an active and growing life in Christ. This verse kept coming to mind and gave me a lot of opportunity to think about it and to dig deeper into it . . . .

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

Have you ever thought about what it means to be devoted to prayer? To be alert in it? As I repeated this verse over and over while working on memorizing it, those phrases seemed to be standing out in bold and really were convicting to me.

The word “devote” is one that I have studied before, so I had a pretty good idea of what it meant. Yet when doing a bit of further study, I was surprised to discover what the Greek word itself means that was translated as this “devote.”

I looked it up in our concordance and found that the Greek word is proskartereo which means “to attend constantly.” As I read that, it was kind of like a ‘wow’ moment . . . one of those times where I just had to stop and think about the deep implications that that one word holds. It is so much more than I would have ever thought . . . so much further reaching, so very much a part of who we should be. To think the Lord has called us to constantly attend to prayer! How convicting this is!

Looking further, it was found that the phrase “keeping alert” simply means “to be awake, to watch.” This being devoted to prayer and keeping alert in it, then, seems to be a heart so close to the Lord, so intimate in fellowship, and so ready to, all throughout the day, go to the Lord in prayer for wisdom, strength, help, provision, and so much more, with whatever circumstances come our way during the day. Just like abiding in Christ becomes an integral part of our life, so should prayer become a constant aspect of our life in Christ.

For myself, there is a particular area that, as I thought about this “devoted to prayer” over the past weeks, especially hit home to me. It is related to speaking a word for Christ to others (such as people I meet in town, extended family, friends, acquaintances, etc.) and pointing hearts to Christ.

This is something that is very important to me, but so often, opportunities come up to say something, and I miss them because I do not think about it until after the fact. This has happened so many times the past months when after having a conversation with someone, I would look back and see many ways where I could have turned the conversation to spiritual things, turned it to sharing the gospel, offered a word of encouragement, and more.

But then when I memorized this verse, I realized that if my heart was alert to prayer and if I had that constant, open communication with the Lord and turned to Him immediately asking for His Spirit’s guidance as soon as these types of conversations would come up, then I would know how to respond. But in order to be ready for these situations (and others as well), I need to be cultivating that heart now.

And this is just one tiny aspect of life that can be so affected through prayer! And that should be brought to the Lord in prayer. I am reminded of the verse in 1 Thessalonians “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; emphasis added.)

It is God’s will for us to pray to Him always with joy and thanksgiving. Should it not be our great delight to do so? Just think, prayer is communication with the Lord God! Not only the all-knowing and all-wise Creator of all, but our Lord and Savior! Our Redeemer and Friend.

Just thinking of this beautiful relationship and the special avenue of communication that we fallible, yet redeemed, people have with Him fills my heart with awe and thankfulness to the Lord. That He has such care for us and love for us, that His ear is always open to our prayer. That even His Son, Jesus Christ, is our intercessor and mediator! With just knowing these beautiful truths, what a joy it should be to us, and how eager we should be, to indeed, be devoted, to be constantly attending, to prayer.

For me personally, this heart that is devoted to prayer is closely tied with having my mind set on things above, resting and abiding in Christ, and having my regular times with the Lord in His Word. It is like fabric on a loom where each strand is woven together to form the beauty of the whole.

Yet if some of the threads are broken or missing, the strength of the fabric suffers and its beauty will be lacking. Oh, to remember to cultivate the strength of each of the threads in my spiritual life! Including having and cultivating this beautiful heart that is so close to the Lord that it is devoted to prayer to Him and alert in it with all thanksgiving.

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Every once in awhile, I stumble across a gem of a book, and right now I am reading through one that is thus far, one of the most spiritually encouraging books that I have read. It is titled Kept for the Master's Use and was written by Frances Ridley Havergal in the late 1800's. She was also the author of the well-known hymn Take My Life and Let It Be. This book is actually based upon this hymn that she had written, and it shares about full consecration to the Lord in all areas of our lives.

I had begun the book awhile back and was about halfway through when I decided to start it over so I could take notes while I read. There were just so many convicting and encouraging portions of it that I wanted to be able to easily find later on!

This past Sunday evening while we were all gathered in the living room doing various things, I read through chapter one again and copied down several excerpts. One touched my heart so much that I shared it with my family after copying it down, and I thought I would share it here as well. (And to help keep it in context, remember that the title of the book is Kept for the Master's Use) . . . .

"We want our lives kept, not that we may feel happy, and be saved the distress consequent on wandering, and get the power with God and man and all the other privileges linked with it. We shall have all this, because the lower is included in the higher; but our true aim, if the love of Christ constraineth us, will be far beyond this. Not for "me" at all, but "for Jesus"; not for my safety, but for His glory; not for my comfort, but for His joy . . . Yes, for Him I want to be kept. Kept for His sake; kept for His use; kept to be His witness; kept for His joy! kept for Him, that in me He may show forth some tiny sparkle of His light and beauty; kept to do His will and His work in His own way; kept, it may be, to suffer for His sake; kept for Him, that He may do just what seemeth good with me; kept so that no other lord shall have any more dominion over me, but that Jesus shall have all there is to have - little enough, indeed, but not divided or diminished by any other claim. Is not this, O you who love the Lord - is not this worth living for, worth asking for, worth trusting for? This is consecration . . . ." (Kept for the Master's Use; pg. 22-23.)

Oh, to have such a heart as this! Each time I read through this, I find my heart so convicted and hungering after this kind of life and heart. Yes, the aim is high, and it may seem in our human minds difficult, if not impossible, to reach, but as the author shared just a bit earlier in the chapter:

"Consecration is not so much a step as a course; not so much an act, as a position to which a course of action inseparably belongs." (Kept for the Master's Use; pg. 14)

So I journey on . . . desiring and seeking to bring each aspect of my life into this full consecration to the Lord. And as I continue reading in this book, I am sure more portions of it will be shared here!

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2.)

-Posted by Sarah

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Few Verses from 1 Peter

This morning when reading my Bible there was one passage that particularly stood out to me and convicted my heart, and I thought I would share it here as well . . .

"The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:7-11.)

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Abiding and Working - A Quote from Andrew Murray

I have been slowly reading through a book called Abide in Christ* by Andrew Murray, and have been so blessed, encouraged and convicted by it. Each chapter has had much that spoke to my heart, and that I have then been seeking to apply to my own life. The below portion (as well as many others) was especially convicting to me . . . I hope that it will bless and encourage your heart as it did mine!

"If we are abiding in Jesus, let us begin to work. Let us first seek to influence those around us in daily life. Let us accept distinctly and joyfully our holy calling, that we are even now to live as the servants of the love of Jesus to our fellow-men. Our daily life must have for its object the making of an impression favourable to Jesus. When you look at the branch, you see at once the likeness to the Vine. We must live so that somewhat of the holiness and the gentleness of Jesus may shine out in us. We must live to represent Him. As was the case with Him when on earth, the life must prepare the way for the teaching . . . .

"Living so, with our hearts longing to have Jesus glorified in the souls He is seeking after, let us offer ourselves to Him for direct work. There is work in our own home. There is work among the sick, the poor, and the outcast. There is work in a hundred different paths which the Spirit of Christ opens up through those who allow themselves to be led by Him . . . . Abiding in Christ, let us work."

Quote taken from the book Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray; pg.117

*As a little disclaimer, I do not necessarily agree with everything that is shared in the book, but overall, the content is excellent!

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gleanings from a Sunday Teaching

What a blessing it is to be a part of the body of Christ, and Sundays when we gather together with brothers and sisters in the Lord are such wonderful and encouraging times . . . it truly is a family meeting together with a one another love for each other and for our God and Savior. When one member rejoices, the others rejoice; when one member suffers, the others suffer as well; when one weeps, the others weep with them; when one has a need, the others seek to support and meet that need.

I hadn’t realized how fully this could be realized in a church family until the past year or so when each of the families in our group went through significant trials and hardships. How beautiful it was to see how these trying times allowed for such growth in the Lord and growth in our relationships with one another. It also provided much opportunity for encouraging one another and building up one another in Christ.

In light of all that had taken place in everyone’s lives over the past months, one of the men was led to share a bit of encouragement to everyone the Sunday before last. The teaching that he prepared was so uplifting and so thought-provoking, and my pen flew across the paper in my notebook as I tried to keep up with taking notes. Afterwards, the thought came to mind that what was shared might also be good to share here as well. There is no way that I can type up what was taught as clearly as how it was presented on Sunday, but I thought I would attempt to, at least in part, share some of what was taught . . .

We began by looking at a number of verses that speak of how our hearts should be when we are going through trials, and then also what the Lord’s relationship with us is as we walk through these trials. Just the verses themselves spoke so much to my heart . . . .

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Our trials can be reasons of great joy for us . . . simply look at what good fruit they can bring forth!

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah. God is to us a God of deliverances; and to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.” (Psalm 68:19-20)

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.” (Psalm 62:8)

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

How beautiful, and how encouraging these verses are . . . the Lord daily bears our burden, He is our God of salvation, He is a God of deliverances, He is a refuge for us, He is our sustainer, and He will never allow those who are His to be shaken. What precious, precious promises.

This type of trust and rest in Him can come through the simple knowledge that God is God. We don’t always see what He is doing “behind the scenes” so to speak; we have no way of knowing what wondrous fruit He may be working in our lives through the trying and difficult circumstances that we may be going through. Nor what fruit they may bear in the lives of those who are watching.

After talking about this for a bit, we turned to 2 Chronicles and read through chapter 20 piece by piece. I had not thought of this chapter quite in this light before, and it was wonderful to see it ‘opened up’ as we dug deeper into the word of God. And how well this account applied to the verses that we had just read through!

Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).’ Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all of the cities of Judah to seek the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 20:1-4)

Can you imagine being the nation of Judah and then finding out that all of these mighty nations were joining together to come and attack you? What would your response be? To immediately begin planning how to defend yourself and what your plan of attack would be? I think that would be more of how I would respond. 

But what was Jehoshaphat’s response? Yes, fear did come into his heart, but his immediate response was that he “turned his attention to seek the LORD.” And not only that, but he led the nation of Judah to seek help from the Lord as well. What a beautiful testimony this is of Jehoshaphat’s close relationship with the Lord and also of his great faith in Him.

The chapter continues with sharing . . . .

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court, and he said, ‘ O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? 

"They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying, 'Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.' 

"Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance. O Our God, will You not judge them? 

"For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us: nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.’ All Judah was standing before the LORD, with their infants, their wives and their children.” (2 Chronicles 20:5-13)

Jehoshaphat prayed to the Lord and in that prayer, He acknowledged who God was and His power, presented the circumstances that the nation, Judah, was in, and beseeched the Lord for wisdom and direction. And where were Judah’s eyes throughout this time? Were their eyes on their problems and the impending attack upon their nation? No, but their eyes were on the Lord. What a declaration of faith this is.

In the passage above, great humility is also seen in that they recognized that they themselves were powerless; that they did not know what to do. Instead of trying to fix the problem on their own, to fight in their own might and strength, they turned to the One who is all-knowing and who is all-powerful, to the one true Savior. The God whom they knew could deliver them . . . and it was He whom they sought with all humility and trust.

The answer to the prayer of Jehoshaphat’s is found in the verses that follow it . . .

Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; and he said, ‘Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, 

" 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.’ 

"Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. The Levites, from the sons of the Kohathites and of the sons of the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel, with a very loud voice.” (2 Chronicles 20:14-19)

So many things are presented in this passage! A couple of points that were brought up by the one who was teaching were

-We are to not fear or dismay in the trials that we are faced with 
-We cannot fight our own battles in our own strength 
-We must humble ourselves before the Lord 
-Judah was told to: not fear . . . stand still . . . see the salvation of the Lord 
-The Lord cares for His children; our ‘battles’ are important to Him. As children rely on their earthly father, so must we rely and depend unquestioningly in our heavenly father. For would He not have our best interests at heart? (This reminds me of the verses in the gospels that speak of the Father giving good gifts to His children that are so much greater than what even an earthly father would give.) 
-If Judah had looked specifically at the ‘facts’ of the matter and had responded with their minds, then fear and dismay could easily come in. But instead, they looked to the Lord and had faith and trust in Him.

What follows next is an amazing act of the Lord to protect and preserve His people . . . to indeed, fight their battle for them . . . .

They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.’ When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.’ 

"When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed. For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroying them completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses on the ground and no one had escaped . . . So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides.” (2 Chronicles 20:20-24, 30)

Judah trusted in the Lord, they sang and praised Him for who He is, for His lovingkindness that is everlasting . . . and the Lord brought deliverance to them.

What a stirring account all of this is in 2 Chronicles 20, and when faced with our own trials and tribulations, may our hearts respond with the same immediate heartfelt earnestness that Jehoshaphat displayed. Turning our attention to seek the Lord, praying for His wisdom and deliverance, trusting Him, and keeping our eyes on Him to see what He would have us do.

After finishing reading through the account, we looked at a couple more verses to bring together all that had been shared so far . . .

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

No matter what the circumstances are, if we are His children, we can know that God will work these trials and hardships for our good . . . someway, somehow.

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

The Lord loved us so very much to give His own Son to meet our greatest need . . . the need of a Savior. If He loved us so much when we were “yet sinners”, how much more so now when we are His blood-bought children! As this verse shows, and as it was shared on Sunday, if the Lord could do so much for us to meet our greatest need, how much more to meet our much smaller daily needs and trials.

And my God will supply all your needs according to the riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, if we seek the Lord and for His wisdom and guidance, He will be to us a well-spring of wisdom, strength, peace, joy, comfort, and victory. It may not be a physical victory that can be seen as in Jehoshaphat’s and Judah’s case (in fact, most times it isn’t), but spiritual victory will most certainly be had. And as this verse shows, the Lord will supply our needs according to the riches in glory in our blessed Savior and Redeemer, Christ Jesus. Praise and thank the Lord for all of the many blessings that He so freely pours out upon us!

-Posted by Sarah

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Proverbs 31 - An Example of Biblical Womanhood

Proverbs 31 has always been an inspiring chapter to me, but sometimes it can be difficult to see how it relates to our lives today . . . how do the activities that she is doing apply to us? How is it applicable? When hearing the question posed recently by a young lady asking what Proverbs 31 would look like lived out in our lives today, it got me to thinking and then to eventually write out some thoughts regarding it.

One thing that has been a help to me in regards to seeing the application to my own life, is to not look specifically at what she is doing, but the principles behind what she does. Which I hope makes sense! :) In Proverbs 31, some of the things that stand out to me are her industriousness, her lack of idleness, her servant heart, her willingness to work, and her good care of her home and of her family. There is so very much in this chapter, and here are just a few brief thoughts verse by verse:

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” (vs. 10)

There will be more on this later. :)

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” (vs. 11)

She is trustworthy and loyal to her husband, and thus, he has full and complete confidence in her. She is a genuine helpmeet, and because of how she fulfills her role, her husband will have no lack of those things which are truly of value. A thought that comes to mind as far as actual physical lack, is that it would appear that she is frugal and a good manager of their finances and resources.

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (vs. 12)

While this can be considered specifically to be for married women, it is applicable to those of us who are unmarried as even now, by the character we are developing, the things we are learning, etc., we can be doing good to the husbands that the Lord may have for us in the future. This also implies a continual doing of good . . . as every single day of her life, she is doing him good.

She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.” (vs. 13)

This is one of my many favorite verses in Scripture, and simply for the last word in it: delight. How often that has come to mind as I am working on things around the house! (Scrubbing the bathtub/shower comes to mind . . . :) Here she is looking for labor to do, she is actively seeking, and the work of her hands is a delight to her. She delights in doing these labors as she possesses a servant heart, and she knows that she is fulfilling the role that God has given her as a wife and mother. 

This delight is defined as: eager willingness, great earnestness, cheerfully, and taking a high degree of pleasure in. As we go about our day to day household tasks whether it be doing the laundry or scrubbing the floors, may this be our heart as well!

She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.”(vs. 14)

She is resourceful and a planner . . . she is searching and looking for food. Perhaps this can be applicable to looking for ‘bargains’ in order to spend money wisely while providing food for her family.

She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” (vs. 15)

One could never accuse this woman of being lazy, could they?! :) She seems to be very industrious and is looking to others’ needs above her own. She sacrifices her own comfort to arise early to make sure that her family is well cared for and provided for.

She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard” (vs. 16)

From what is shared here, it appears that she is an entrepreneur given her purchase of land and then planting a vineyard. This also indicates long term goals and planning as a vineyard would take many years before it would begin to produce fruit. She also is a manager of finances. And she must manage well in order to have the money available to purchase the land.

She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” (vs. 17)

This verse seems to indicate that she cares well for her body both through exercise and through what she eats, and that she has the physical strength necessary to perform her daily labors . . . there is also a principle of spiritual strength as well.

She senses that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night.” (vs. 18)

She rests in contentment knowing that her labor is producing fruit which is good. The last part, though, is still a bit of a puzzle to me . . . one idea that someone once shared with me is that often a candle was left burning in the window as a sign of welcome to a passerby who may be needing shelter. Or again, it could be an indicator of her industry.

She stretches out her hands to the distaff and her hands grasp the spindle.” (vs. 19)

Again, she is a woman of industry as she seeks to provide for the needs of her family through providing clothing and coverings for them.

She extends her hands to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.” (vs. 20)

Here the passage seems to take a shift as the focus moves from first, her husband, and then second, her family, to now thirdly, towards others outside of her family. She sees needs and seeks to meet those needs, she has a heart of service, love and of generosity towards those in need. And I would imagine that this would not only be physical needs, but spiritual as well. “Extending her hands” is also an indicator of a sign of welcoming, and in another sense, stretching out to give a gift.

She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.” (vs. 21-22)

Again, those of her household are well provided for through her foresight and labor of love as she worked to provide for their needs; and she was prepared in advance. Her clothing being made of fine linen and purple suggests not just a ho-hum effort and sloppy work, but care and beauty in what she makes. One thing that also stood out to me in this is that first her household is clothed, and then she provides for herself. The unselfish, giving heart of this woman again shines through.

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.” (vs. 23-34)

She has a home business through which she sells the work of her hands . . . and it comes after her family and household have been well cared for and provided for. She uses her skills and talents to help earn an income and be a helper to her husband.

The passage continues with pointing out her trust and joy in looking to the future and her lack of fear and worry for she trusts in the Lord and knows that she has provided as well as she can for the needs of her family (vs. 25.) She is also clothed with dignity and strength, and it is shared that the words that flow from her mouth are words of wisdom and the teaching of kindness (vs. 26.) 

She is one who “looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness” (vs. 27.) Idle is in part to be slothful, avoiding work, not doing the tasks that you need to be doing, and being lazy. Instead of being idle, though, she willingly and joyfully serves her family and cares well for her household . . . in providing food, providing clothing, and I would imagine, caring for the cleaning, laundry, and other household tasks . . . and she does these tasks well.

Perhaps what stands out to me the most, though, about this chapter in Proverbs is found in verse 10 where it mentions her “excellence” or her being “virtuous.” Virtuous is something that is internal through which her actions, words, behavior, etc. flow from. It is having the virtues of God in her life . . . she is living and exemplifying the character that God has called her as a woman to have. When I think about that, the things that come to mind are the instruction given elsewhere in Scripture which speak of the character of a godly woman . . .

~A gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4)
~Sober/Dignified (1 Timothy 3:11)
~Sensible (Titus 2:5)
~Pure (Titus 2:5)
~Submissive (1 Peter 3:1-6; Titus 2:5, etc.)
~Kind (Titus 2:5)
~Reverent in behavior (Titus 2:3)
~Respectful (1 Peter 3:2)
~Gracious (Proverbs 11:16)
~Loving of husband and children (Titus 2:4)
~Modest (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
~Teaching what is good (Titus 2:3)
~Faithful in all things (1 Timothy 3:11)
~Not contentious (Proverbs 25:24, 21:19; etc.)
~Not a gossip (Titus 2:3; 1 Timothy 3:11)
~Temperate (1 Timothy 3:11)
~Having discretion (Proverbs 11:22)

Just reading through this list convicts my heart!

And one more to add to that list, and what is the summation of Proverbs 31, is being a woman who fears the Lord (vs 31) . . .

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30.)

This is the part that convicts me the very most as it is foundational to all of the other things mentioned in this chapter . . . and all of the other instruction given by God in His Word to women . . . it is the very heart of the matter and that is our personal relationship with our God and Father. This fear of the Lord is a deep reverence and awe for the almighty and holy God, our Savior and Redeemer. 

And how very important it is for us to cultivate our relationship with Him! To humble ourselves before Him and honor Him as God. To earnestly seek to love Him and serve Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And then to cultivate and strive after all of the many attributes that He desires us to have in our lives . . . including this beautiful chapter of Proverbs 31.

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thoughts on the life of a king

The other morning, while spending time in God's Word, I was reading about the life of King Hezekiah. Now if you recall much of the history of the kings in the Old Testament, the majority were described as doing evil before God. But Hezekiah was different . . . Scripture describes him as one who put his trust in the Lord and did right in the sight of God. What caught my eye though, while reading about this man, was another small phrase that described his life. "For he clung to the Lord." What a statement to be the description of your life, to be passed down generation after generation!

As I began thinking about what it means to cling to God, the picture that came to mind was that of a small child clinging tightly to their parent. Unwilling to let go lest someone take them out of the sight and protection of the one they love and trust.

And I wonder . . . how often do I let myself get sidetracked with the busyness and experiences of life that I forget to keep my eyes on the Lord? Will I choose to cling tightly to Christ today, this very moment? Will you? What will others remember of us in years to come?

"You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; 
and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice,
serve Him, and cling to Him." Deuteronomy 13:4

-Posted by Leah

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Psalm to Share

Last evening, as I opened my Bible to read a Psalm before bed, I found that the one that I was on for the day was one of my favorites . . . and one that I have memorized in song (only the New King James Version of it. :) I found myself singing in my head the beautiful and encouraging words as I read, and I hope that the words will be a blessing to you as well . . .

"O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there was a word on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
and laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

"Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
even there Your hand will lead me,
and Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
and the light around me will be night,'
even the darkness is not dark to You,
and the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

"For you formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
wonderful are Your works,
and my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was made in secret,
and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
and in Your book were all written
the days that were ordained [lit. fashioned] for me,
when as yet there was not one of them.

"How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You . . . .

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my anxious thoughts;
and see if there be any hurtful way in me,
and lead me in the everlasting way."
Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24

-Posted by Sarah

Monday, January 17, 2011

Not in part, but the whole

This past week, I have had a song repeatedly coming into my thoughts throughout the day. Its message is stirring and thought-provoking, and also bears a challenge to each of us as followers of Jesus Christ.

All Of Me

All of me, Not a part but all of me
All the heart and soul of me
Jesus, I surrender

I believe, Lord, help my unbelief
On the altar now I lay
all I am today

So use me, Lord, use me anywhere at all
Though my place may be great or small
let me fill it gladly

Take my life, be it poor or be it grand
Let me live it by Your plan.
Shape it with Your hand

As I am, I come to Thee without one plea
Only that Thy saving blood
was shed for me

All of me, through the ages yet to be
I surrender Lord to Thee
I surrender all of me
All of me
I surrender all,
All of me

After reading the lyrics again, I took a moment to look up two of the main words in the song to see just what they mean . . .

Surrender: To give oneself up completely, to yield
All: Completely, Entirely, Wholly, without reservation

Indeed, that should be the earnest cry of the heart of every believer. And also something that we should be asking ourselves often . . . are we surrendering all to Christ? Have we yielded every part of our lives to be shaped by His hand? Or are there areas that we are holding back? I think it is safe to say that surrendering ourselves wholly to the Lord is something that we must do each and every day - it is not a one time thing. But day by day, we can come closer and closer to our goal and someday we will reach that point of complete surrender when we are with Him in glory. What a precious promise that is!

-Posted by Leah 

Words and music by Mosie Lister
Photo by : Bruno Monginoux